Social Science Research Council Launches New Two-Year, $200K Fellowships to Explore More Just Technological Futures
The Social Science Research Council announces the Just Tech Fellowship, a groundbreaking new initiative designed to champion, center, and sustain researchers and practitioners working at the intersection of technology and social justice.
BROOKLYN, NY (November 9, 2021) – Today, the Social Science Research Council (SSRC), an independent, international nonprofit dedicated to mobilizing necessary knowledge for the public good, announced the launch of its Just Tech Fellowship, a one-of-a-kind opportunity for researchers and practitioners to imagine and create more just, equitable, and representative technological futures.
As the world struggles to reckon with ongoing legacies of systemic discrimination and racial injustice, the SSRC will support this diverse community of researchers and practitioners to reimagine the limits and potential of new technology in the service of empathic and community-centered repair and reparation. The Just Tech Fellowship and its fellows will seek to build toward technological futures that celebrate and manifest justice, equity, agency, and knowledge.
“We need time, space, and resources to dream up and enact the societies and communities we want—life cannot be about just surviving and defending ourselves from systems of oppression,” said Safiya Umoja Noble, Just Tech Steering Committee Member, MacArthur Fellow, and author of Algorithms of Oppression. “We need support for building systems that support the fullness of the human experience, and we need to resist the ways technology can truncate, limit, or diminish our attempts to realize a more just world.”
“The Just Tech Fellowship provides vital support for people whose work can exert lasting influence on the direction of data-driven technologies,” said Ruha Benjamin, Just Tech Steering Committee Member and author of Race After Technology. “We need to consider that the technology that might be working just fine for some of us (now) could harm or exclude others—and that, even when the stakes seem trivial, a visionary ethos requires looking down the road to where things might be headed. To develop new, more just imaginaries, analysts, artists, and activists alike need space to experiment with both speculative and trusted methods, and to build a collaborative, caring ecosystem.”
Over the last two years, the Covid-19 pandemic and accompanying crises have laid bare biases and inequities that structure technological experience in a social context, from contact tracing apps to facial recognition algorithms to remote surveillance. All too often, the very communities who have pioneered work to uncover the harms of ill-conceived technological designs are subject to historical and ongoing forms of discrimination and are underrepresented in positions of power.
“The Social Science Research Council is proud to launch the Just Tech Fellowship, which will support diverse cohorts of researchers and practitioners to investigate, imagine, and create technologies to center people and further social justice,” said Anna Harvey, president and CEO of the Social Science Research Council. “The work of the Just Tech Fellows will showcase both the challenges and the opportunities posed by emergent technologies, enabling a path toward more just and more equitable technological futures.”
A new model for holistic research support, the Just Tech Fellowship is designed not only to support a researcher’s work but also to invest in their entire person and to build a supportive and collaborative community.
- The Just Tech Fellowship offers two-year unrestricted awards of $100,000 per year.
- The award is augmented by robust supplementary funding packages to subsidize dependent care, health care, work space, technical equipment, project materials, communications, or other needs. The Just Tech Fellowship is designed not only to support a researcher’s work but also to invest in their entire person and to build a supportive community.
- The fellowship will be administered by the SSRC’s Just Tech program and will be complemented by a digital platform to create a new ecosystem of research and social engagement, one that enriches public discourse, informs public policy, and radically imagines just futures where social and public interests drive technological change, instead of the other way around.
- Expressions of interest (EoI) will be accepted beginning today, November 9, 2021, through January 2, 2022. Full applications will be accepted beginning January 3, 2022, and the deadline to submit is Sunday, January 30, 2022, at 11:59 p.m. EST.
Just Tech is funded by a broad range of philanthropic foundations committed to cultivating critical work on the intersection of technology and social justice, including the Ford Foundation, the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, the Surdna Foundation, and Democracy Fund.
“At this critical juncture, when the harmful impacts of technology have never been more pronounced, the Just Tech Fellowship is urgently needed to foster a diverse cohort of social researchers—from journalism to the arts to computer science—to help realize a better technological future for us all,” said Darren Walker, president of the Ford Foundation. “The Just Tech Fellowship is a model for the kind of holistic, sustainable support social researchers need to dream, and to build a multi-disciplinary community to tackle big problems with bold, representative solutions.”
“The Just Tech Fellowship will center the expertise of historically marginalized researchers and practitioners studying the social impacts of technology on society,” said John Palfrey, president of the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation. “The fellowship will not only support researchers’ work but also invest in the entire person to enrich public discourse, inform policy, and help advance a future where social and public interests drive technological change, rather than the inverse.”
To learn more about the fellowship and sign up for updates, go here: www.ssrc.org/just-tech-fellowship
About the Social Science Research Council
The Social Science Research Council (SSRC) is an independent, international, nonprofit organization devoted to advancing interdisciplinary research in the social sciences and related disciplines through a wide variety of workshops and conferences, fellowships and grants, summer training institutes, scholarly exchanges, research, and publications. The SSRC is guided by the belief that justice, prosperity, and democracy all require a better understanding of complex social, cultural, economic, and political processes. To learn more about the SSRC please visit www.ssrc.org.
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